Get Rid Of That Sweet Tooth. Your Cells May Thank You!
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder
We all know that consuming too much sugar is not good for us. For example, eating a lot of sugar increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Despite this, it’s hard for many of us to reduce the amount of sugar from our daily diets. It tastes good, delivers a jolt of energy, is readily available in so many foods and is very addicting (some doctors say just as addicting as drugs).
According to the American Heart Association, “American adults consume an average of 77 grams of sugar per day, more than 3 times the recommended amount for women. This adds up to around 60 pounds of added sugar annually – that’s six, 10-pound bowling balls, folks! The numbers are even worse for children. American kids consume 81 grams per day, equaling over 65 pounds of added sugar per year. Think of it this way – children are ingesting over 30 gallons of added sugars from beverages alone. That’s enough to fill a bathtub!”
Even if I told you that excessive amounts of sugar in the diet may contribute to depression, more prominent wrinkles in the skin and joint pain, some of you still may be thinking: So what? Life is too short. Let’s make it sweet!
We don't have to go completely sugar-free, but we certainly need to work on reducing our intake of sugar. Before I dive into that, perhaps understanding more about how sugar actually affects our bodies’ cells may be just the motivation some of us need.
Eating too much sugar may affect our mitochondria.
To put it simply, mitochondria are the “energy factor” of our bodies, reports the Cleveland Clinic.
Almost every cell in our bodies has several thousand mitochondria. They process oxygen and help convert food into energy. More specifically, mitochondria help metabolize and break down carbohydrates and fatty acids. They make 90 percent of the energy our bodies need to function properly. So to say that they have an important job in keeping us healthy is an understatement.
Recent research conducted by scientists of Van Andel Institute found evidence which showed that eating too much sugar makes mitochondria less efficient at doing their job. This means a reduced energy output.
“Wu [one of the scientists leading the study] and her colleagues demonstrated that excess glucose reduces the concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the mitochondrial membrane and makes mitochondria less efficient. PUFAs are vital players in supporting mitochondrial function and mediating a host of other biological processes such as inflammation, blood pressure and cellular communication,” according to this Medical Xpress report that discusses the study.
The study examined mice, and the researchers found that they were able to reverse the negative effects on the mitochondria from consuming a high sugar diet by feeding the mice a low sugar, ketogenic diet.
(Many of you have probably heard of the ketogenic, more commonly called “keto,” diet. This is a very popular diet right now, but it is always good to seek the advice of a competent healthcare professional before following this diet. You can read more about the keto diet here).
"Although we may not always notice the difference in mitochondrial performance right away, our bodies do,” said Dr Wu.
"If the lipid balance is thrown off for long enough, we may begin to feel subtle changes, such as tiring more quickly. While our study does not offer medical recommendations, it does illuminate the early stages of metabolic disease and provides insights that may shape future prevention and therapeutic efforts."
Be proactive about reducing your sugar intake.
- Replace sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) such as soda with sugar-free drinks, including water, sparkling water or unsweetened iced tea. If you need flavor in your plain water, infuse it with nutrient-rich foods such as cucumber, mint and strawberry.
- Watch out for hidden sugars. Many store bought yogurts, tomato and barbeque sauces and dressings have a lot of added sugars. Homemade sauces and dressings are always best. If you are a yogurt eater, go for plain Greek yogurt.
- Avoid processed foods as much as possible. I know this can be hard, especially if you are a habitual candy eater or rely on sweets mid-day for a pick-me-up. Replace these nutrient-void, sugary foods with high-protein, healthy carbohydrate snacks such as veggies and hummus or cottage cheese and fruit. You will feel more energized and satisfied throughout the day.
- Get moving. Several studies have shown that exercising may help fight sugar cravings. In addition to this, a brisk 15 minute walk can help control blood sugar levels.
Let’s kick the sugar addiction in America. Our cells may thank us.
Enjoy your healthy life!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.